DRC Report from Volunteer
Tracy Hughes – Democratic Republic of Congo
We have had quite a time here in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It is very hard to put into words the immense suffering of the Congolese people, particualry the women and girls. I have hear stories of rapes and violence against women and girls of all ages that should never have to be lived through or told. It is all very heart wrenching.
Yet, in all of the misery and human suffering and destruction there are glimmers of God’s love apparent in the lives of the Congolese people. There are women who are working with female victims of sexual violence at great risk to their own safety and even lives. We met a priest who felt his call into the ministry of reconciliation as a young person – he lived through the worst of the war in Bunia and some of his family members were massacred – including his mother who had her throat cut open and died. This Congolese priest is 38 and has an incredible sense of justce, peace and reconciliation – and hopes to be able to continue to be a minister of reconciliation in the Bunia area – where an ethnic conflict continues.
I see the face of God in the faces of the women as they tell their horror stories of being raped by 6 or 10 o 17 soldiers and having them rape them again with guns, machettes and other implements.
I see the face of God in the women as they tell their stories of having their children or husbands killed in front of them and then being taken into the forest as sexual slaves by the militia.
I see the face of God in the woman who was violently raped by militia and had both of her hands cut off.
I see the face of God in the many children who live and play in the rural villages, hundreds of which are orphans because their parents were killed in the conflict.
I see the face of God in the babies that are carried on their mother’s backs in a close-tied slings.
I see the face of God in the newborn baby in Goma who was born of rape and who is starving because his mother cannot produce milk.
I see the face of God in the men and boys who have no opportunity to work and provide food for their families.
I see the face of God in the men and boys who have seen so much violence and have escaped the slaughter of men.
I am trying to see the face of God in the militia and national soldiers who rape, pillage communities, kill at random or for a cause, who inflict violence and pain on women in unmentionable ways. –and– who are also victims of this endless war.
I pray to God for all of the people of the Congo, particularly those caught in the conflicts that scar the entire region of the Eastern borders. I pray for the healing of bodies, for the healing of spirits, for the healing of minds. I pray for the purging of violence from the milita groups and the national army and others. I pray for the healing of all of the children who have little food, no schooling and no parents.
I pray for the the USA, the multinational companies and other international forces that fuel this war with greed, guns, and exploitaton.
Dear God of Love and Mercy, I cry out to you this night and all nights for the healing of human community. In anguish, I call to you to give us the strength, faith and courage to change the violence within us to compassion and love. In tearful outrage, I pray that the destruction and death of individual persons, families, communties, and land in the Congo will come to an end. When will we listen, Oh God, to your covenant promises? When will we live out our response to your love and steadfastness? When will we understand that all people are uniquely created in your image and are our brothers and sisters world wide? When will we – members of human community – be ready to transform our violence and hatred, our killing and destruction – our investment in evil – to an investment in the love, the mercy, the compassion, the justice, the peace and the unity that is offered to us in Christ Jesus and in the covenant promises of Your kingdom? For, Oh God, if we do not transform our ways what will become of our world community – your creation of love?
Peace and Hope from the Congo,